When does a biblical month and new year start and why is it important for YOU to know?

Why is it important to know when the biblical month and new year start? Because as more people are leaving the non-biblical traditions of man that they have been taught in their churches (including the non-biblical Christian holidays) and return to the truths of the Bible (including the biblical holidays), they need to know when to celebrate YHVH’s appointed times or feasts. This means that one needs to have a basic understanding of the biblical calendar, which is different from the world’s calendar in use today. The article below (along with other articles that I’ve written on the subject which you can find at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/teaching.html#feast) will help to explain this.

Exodus 12:2, Month. It is the Hebrew word chodesh (Strong’s H2320/TWOT 613b) meaning “the new moon, month, monthly, the first day of the month, the lunar month.” It is found in the Tanakh (Old Testament) 276 times and is translated in the King James Version as “month” 254 times, “new moon” (20 times), and “monthly” (1 time). We see that from these definitions that the terms “month” and “new moon” are synonymous. It has been understood for millennia that ancient Israelites began their month with the new moon.

Why was it important for the Israelites to know when the new moon occurred and when the month began? The dates of the annual biblical festivals that YHVH gave to Israel and instructed them to observe were determined based on when the new moon occurred (Lev 23:5, 6, 24, 27, 34).

The next question to answer is this: when does the biblical month begin? As we noted above, for modern astronomers the term “new moon” means something different than it did to the ancients, including those who YHVH inspired to write the Bible. Ancient calendars were determined by the moon, while modern ones are not. Some biblical expositors teach that the new moon begins when the moon is in conjunction or in line with the earth and the sun and is in its dark phase. Others believe that the month begins just after the moon has moved out of its dark phase and begins to show a sliver of light, which is called the visible or crescent new moon. Who is right?

Some Bible teachers claim that there is no place in the Scriptures that specifically states that the new moon begins at the first visible sliver after being dark for several days. Therefore, they reason, it is an assumption to say that it does (even though, as we will see below, this was the understanding of the ancient Israelites), and therefore, the new moon should be determined from its conjunction with the earth and sun while it is in its dark phase. While on the surface, this may seem like a valid argument, one important verse in the Scriptures, however, and some simple logic quickly disproves this notion. It is Genesis 1:14.

And Elohim said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons [moedim/biblical festivals], and for days, and years.”

In this verse we see that the sun and the moon are “signs” for seasons, days and years. The word “sign” is the ­Hebrew word owt (Strong’s H226; TWOT 41a) meaning “sign, signal, mark, token, emblem, signboard, standard.” In the Tanakh, owt describes such visible (not invisible) signs as Noah’s rainbow (Gen 9:12–13, 17), Cain’s mark (Gen 4:15), circumcision (Gen 17:11), and the Sabbath (Exod 31:13, 17; Ezek 20:12). In addition, owt is used some 80 times in the Tanakh to refer to miraculous signs. These include the plagues of Egypt (Exod 7:3; Deut 4:34, etc.), the sign of the virgin birth of the Messiah (Isa 7:11, 14); YHVH miraculous signs to Gideon (Judg 6:17) and King Hezekiah (2 Kgs 20:9; Isa 38:7). In addition, Aaron’s rod that budded was a sign or token (Num 17:25). Many more examples could be given.

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Blow that shofar!

Psalm 81:3, Blow the trumpet [Heb. shofar] at the time of the New Moon [Heb. chodesh], at the full moon [Heb. keseh meaning full moon or concealed, covered—scholars disagree as to its meaning and the origin of the word], on our solemn feast day [Heb. chag] — NKJV. The ArtScroll Stone Edition Tanach translates this verse alternatively as follows,

Blow the shofar at the moon’s renewal, at the time appointed for our festive day.

The origins of the Hebrew word keseh behind the phrase “full moon” is uncertain and there is debate among the experts on this subject. Some Hebrew lexicons relate it to a Hebrew root word meaning “to conceal, to cover” (e.g. Gesenius; Strong’s number H3677 cp. H3678), while others tell us that it means “fullness; full moon” (e.g. Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon; cp. The TWOT; Strong’s). BDB tells us that the origin of keseh is unknown and that it may be an Aramaic loan word meaning “full moon.” Gesenius in his lexicon states that the etymology of keseh isn’t clear, but he favors the idea of the moon being covered or concealed in darkness as opposed to being covered in light (i.e., in its full moon state). 

The only other usage of keseh in the Scriptures is found in Prov 7:20, which gives us no clue as to the exact meaning of the word.

Orthodox Jewish scholars tell us that keseh means “to conceal or to cover.” They say that the only biblical festival that occurs at the time of the new moon (biblically, when the first sliver of the new moon becomes visible) is Yom Teruah (or Rosh HaShanah), which occurs on the first day of the seventh month (in late summer). At this time, the moon is nearly completely covered or concealed except for a small, visible sliver.

The next phrase in this verse speaks of a solemn feast day, which is the Hebrew word chag. This word refers to the three pilgrimage festivals, which are Passover and the Feast (or chag) of Unleavened, the Feast (or chag) of Weeks or Pentecost and the Feast (or chag) of Tabernacles (Exod 23:14–16; Deut 16:16).

Jewish scholars relate the word chag to Yom Teruah (which they say refers to Rosh HaShanah, see The ArtScroll Tanach Series Tehillim/Psalms Commentary on this verse). The problem with this interpretation is that the Scriptures never call the day of the new moon (rosh chodesh) a chag, nor is Yom Teruah technically a chag either in the strictest sense of the meaning of the word and its usage in Scripture. Therefore, the word keseh, if it means “concealment” must be referring to both the new moon day (the first day of each month, and to Yom Teruah, which occurs on the first day of the seventh month), while the chag must be referring to the three pilgrimage festivals.

Those scholars who take the word keseh to mean “full moon” say that the phrase in this verse containing this word refers to the pilgrimage festivals (Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks, and Feast of Tabernacles), which all occurred on or very near the time of the full moon.

Whichever interpretation you side with, the bottom line is this: The Scriptures command us to sound the shofar at the time of the New Moon, on Yom Teruah and during the three pilgrimage feasts. (See also Num 10:10.)

 

The Biblical Calendar 101

Exodus 12:2, Month. It is the Hebrew word chodesh (Strong’s H2320/TWOT 613b) meaning “the new moon, month, monthly, the first day of the month, the lunar month.” It is found in the Tanakh (Old Testament) 276 times and is translated in the King James Version as “month” 254 times, “new moon” (20 times), and “monthly” (1 time). We see that from these definitions that the terms “month” and “new moon” are synonymous. It has been understood for millennia that ancient Israelites began their month with the new moon.

Why was it important for the Israelites to know when the new moon occurred and when the month began? The dates of the annual biblical festivals that YHVH gave to Israel and instructed them to observe were determined based on when the new moon occurred (Lev 23:5, 6, 24, 27, 34).

The next question to answer is this: when does the biblical month begin? As we noted above, for modern astronomers the term “new moon” means something different than it did to the ancients, including those who YHVH inspired to write the Bible. Ancient calendars were determined by the moon, while modern ones are not. Some biblical expositors teach that the new moon begins when the moon is in conjunction or in line with the earth and the sun and is in its dark phase. Others believe that the month begins just after the moon has moved out of its dark phase and begins to show a sliver of light, which is called the visible or crescent new moon. Who is right?

Some Bible teachers claim that there is no place in the Scriptures that specifically states that the new moon begins at the first visible sliver after being dark for several days. Therefore, they reason, it is an assumption to say that it does (even though, as we will see below, this was the understanding of the ancient Israelites), and therefore, the new moon Continue reading


 

New Video: When Does the Biblical Month Begin? Crescent Moon or Conjunction?

To know when to celebrate the biblical feasts, the Bible believer must know when the month on the biblical calendar begins. Does the biblical calendar begin at the moon’s crescent or conjunction? In this video, we refute 14 pro-conjunction arguments in favor of the first visible cresenct new moon.


 

When Does the Biblical Month Begin?

This is a lengthy article on a vital subject. It’s deep and heady and will take your full concentration to read. It’s essential that we have a correct understanding of the biblical calendar, so we’ll know when to celebrate YHVH’s feasts. For more background on the biblical calendars if you are new to this subject, I invite you to read three articles I have written previously on this issue available at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/teaching.html#feast. As you’re reading the article below, please let me know if you find any typos. As many times as I’ve proofread it, I still keep finding corrections that need to be made. Your help in this would be a blessing! Thanks. — Natan

Refuting 14 Pro-Conjunction Arguments in Favor of the Visible Crescent

By Natan Lawrence of Hoshana Rabbah Biblical Discipleship Resources
www.hoshanarabbah.org 

The Issue at Hand

For most people returning to a spiritual Hebraic understanding and Torah-pursuant lifestyle, the subject of the biblical calendar is a daunting one because of the complex issues involved. Yet understanding the biblical calendar is vital if one is to walk out their Torah faith as the Scriptures reveal is necessary to achieve a higher reward in YHVH Elohim’s eternal kingdom (Matt 5:19). Knowing when to observe YHVH’s commanded seven biblical feasts (Lev 23), which are the seven steps in his plan of salvation, is dependent on a correct understanding of the biblical calendar.

rosh_chodesh 2

In the Book of Acts, Peter declares that Yeshua the Messiah wouldn’t return to the earth until the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). This is a broad and sweeping statement, and it’s hard to get into Peter’s mind to fully understand what he meant by it, but suffice it to say, it seems that understanding and celebrating the biblical feasts must be part of “the restoration of all things.” But how do we know when to celebrate them if we fail to understand the Creator’s calendar? Understanding when the month starts is crucial to understanding the biblical calendar and hence knowing when to celebrate the feasts.

This is where it gets dicey. There are several opinions among well-meaning Bible teachers as to how to determine when the month starts. These different opinions have given rise to much debate, argumentation Continue reading


 

The Sun, Moon, the Feasts and the Saints

Genesis 1:14–16 reveals that the sun is the greater light and the moon is the lesser light. The Bible reveals that the sun is a spiritual metaphor for Yeshua who is the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2), the Light of the World (John 8:12) and whose face shines like the sun (Rev 1:16). The saints, like the moon, are the lesser light that reflects the light of Yeshua into this dark world. One of the ways the saints do this is through observing and teaching about the seven biblical feasts, which are the seven steps of YHVH’s plan of salvation. Seeing the visible new moon is how we determine the beginning of the months and hence the dates of the feasts. In other words, by the light of the moon we determine the feasts. The visible new moon is a visible sign (Heb. owt, Gen 1:14) to point us toward YHVH’s seasons or modem (i.e., the biblical feasts). In the same way, by our reflecting the light of Yeshua and the truth of his feasts into this dark world, we bring the light of the gospel to the world. This analogy breaks down if the month starts when the moon is dark in its conjunction.


 

Psalm 81 and the New Moon/New Month

Please note: This brief study is an excerpt from a larger work I am about to publish on this blog entitled, “When Does the Biblical Month Begin? Refuting 14 Pro-Conjunction Arguments in Favor of the Visible Crescent.” Stay tuned. — Natan

A Study on Psalm 81 — Is the Word Keseh Proof That the Month Is Conjunction-Based? 

rosh_chodesh 2

A source of great controversy has been the meaning of the Hebrew word keseh as used in Psalm 81:3. The conjunctionists use this word as definitive proof that the new moon starts at the conjunctions. Complicating the issue is the fact that this word occurs only two times in the Tanakh, making its meaning all the more difficult to quantify. Let’s now look at the issues surrounding the meaning of this word.

New Moon Conjunctionist Assertion: In Psalm 81:3 (also Prov 76:10; Job 26:7–9), the phrase full moon is the Hebrew word keseh meaning “concealed, dark, hidden or covered.” This points to a full or dark new moon. The overwhelming use of keseh in the Tanakh (Old Testament) fits the definition above. Job 26:9 to backs up this claim, when you link it back to keseh in Psalm 81:3.

Refutation A: There are several problems with this argument. The word keseh/vxf in Job 26:9 is not the same keseh found in Psalm 81:3. These are two Hebrew words that sound similar and are transliterated the same. In Psalm 81:3, keseh/vxf (Strong’s H3677) ends in the Hebrew letter heh, while the Job 26:9 kiseh/txf (Strong’s H3678) ends with the letter aleph and has a completely different meaning.  This keseh means “seat (of honour), throne, seat, stool, throne; royal dignity, authority, power.” This different Hebrew word has nothing to do with concealing or covering. Some lexicons say that both words have the Hebrew word kasah as their root, but as we shall see below, scholars aren’t certain whether keseh derives from kasah or from a similarly sounding Aramaic loan word that doesn’t mean “concealed or covered” at all, but means “fullness or full moon” and hence the alternate reading in Psalm 81:3. Strong’s and TWOT both state that keseh/vxf in Psalm 81:3 can also be spelled keseh/txf, although it is vowel pointed differently and thus pronounced differently than the keseh/txf meaning “throne.” Both TWOT and Strongs list these words separately in their indexes, but the confusion comes when they list the alternate spelling of keseh (with the ending aleph/t under the heading of the keseh that Continue reading